Former Vancouver mayor Philip Owen dead at 88

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      Philip Owen, who served three terms as mayor of Vancouver, has died at the age of 88 due to complications of Parkinson's disease.

      Owen's family announced the news in a statement released today (October 1). It said that Owen had been a resident of Point Grey Private Hospital for the past three years and that he had "passed away peacefully".

      "As a family, we have always been proud of our father," his son, Christian Owen, said in the statement. "He loved this city, every part of it, and you could see this in how he found the right balance, even when it came to the toughest issues.

      "He was a gentleman and a devoted Vancouverite, right to the end."

      Philip Walter Owen, the city's 36th mayor, served from 1993 to 2002, when he decided not to seek reelection. Prior to 1993, he served on Vancouver's park board and as a city councillor. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2008.

      His father, Walter, was B.C.'s lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1978.

      Philip Owen is best known, politically, for his backing of the so-called Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which emphasized harm reduction, prevention, and treatment for drug addiction in addition to enforcement.

      This progressive approach to a growing concern led to city council unanimously passing, in 2001, a detailed action plan to fight addiction. Ultimately, this resulted in the establishment in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in 2003 of Insite, the first legal supervised safe-injection site in North America.

      Owen is survived by his wife, Brita (to whom he was married for 63 years), and children Christian, Andrea, and Lise, eight grandchilden, and two great-granchildren.